Study support

At Birmingham study and research is a conversation, not simply a lecture. You will be responsible for your own progress, working with academics who challenge and stimulate you, and you will have access to our support and facilities on and off campus.

Central and departmental facilities and training is available throughout your studies to support and enable you to access the information you need to succeed in your Masters. 

Virtual Learning Environment (iVLE) - Canvas

As you progress through your Masters degree programme, the University’s enquiry-based approach to learning will help you develop the key skills that employers are looking for, such as creativity, independent enquiry, the ability to work in a team and to set your own goals, and advanced problem solving.

You will also benefit from the institutional Virtual Learning Environment (iVLE), Canvas, which comprises arange of applications adopted by the University to facilitate learning, teaching and assessment that grant online access to course content, programme materials, assessment, discussion boards, webinars and recorded lectures.


Our new Main Library, opened in September 2016, houses our principal collections and services for the arts and humanities, social sciences, and sciences and engineering, while other libraries and resource centres are specific to individual subject areas including law, medicine, dentistry, education, music, and European studies and modern languages. In addition, the Orchard Learning Resources Centre on Selly Oak Campus offers general library and study services beyond the main campus. 

Our library subject advisors are available to help you in your research, whether for essays, dissertations, or project work. They will meet you one-on-one to give you the advice, training and support you need.

As well as a full range of library services including photocopying, scanning and study space, you can borrow laptops from the library for study and book meeting rooms for group work. Each meeting room comes with facilities for presentation practice, plugs for charging devices and sound proof walls to allow discussion without disturbing other students.

In addition to access to over 2.7 million books and periodicals, three million manuscripts and archives, and more than 16,000 electronic resources; the Main Library includes a Research Reserve on the lower ground floor featuring 1.5 million items, which brings together our important heritage print collection. This area responds to a desire to bring more of the University’s collections into a single space, and make it more accessible to Library users. Knowledgeable staff is available to facilitate access to this research material and can be found in a small consultation area within the space for those who need access to the collections in situ.

Academic Skills Centre (ASC)

The Academic Skills Centre, based in the Main Library, offers postgraduate students advice and workshops to help develop general academic, writing and reading skills. There are additional workshops on plagiarism and guidance on referencing and note-taking skills to prevent unintentional plagiarism. 


Situated in the purpose-built, newly-completed Cadbury Research Library, Special Collections provides access to a wide range of primary and rare source materials. The collection includes 120,000 rare books dating from 1471 and over 3 million archives and manuscript collections including the Mingana collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts, designated as a Collection of National Importance. Special Collections is also responsible for the University’s own heritage archive and photographic collection. All of these collections can be accessed by our staff and students for conducting their research, 

The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, holds an internationally significant collection of books, manuscripts and archive material on the history and performance of Renaissance drama. Students also have access to a range of primary and rare source materials in our Special Collections department.

Skills and Training

Our wide range of training courses enable you to develop both your academic skills and skills that you can transfer to the workplace, improving your work-based competencies and employability. Whether you need to deliver a presentation, improve your communication skills or get to grips with project management, we offer courses that will help you.

The Library Services also offer regular technical training sessions throughout the year which are free to book and attend including research data management, statistical software including SPSS, Microsoft Excel and Endnote referencing software to support your studies.

English language skills for international students

Run by the Birmingham International Academy, lunchtime sessions, workshops, one-to-one sessions and online materials for improving your social and academic English are available throughout the academic year. These sessions and materials are free to all current students.

Academic Writing workshops for international postgraduate students are delivered by experienced tutors of Academic English from the Birmingham International Academy. These include tips and guidance on vital sections of your dissertation such as:

  • Literature Review
  • Methods section
  • Results and discussion
  • Conclusions and abstracts

Languages for all

The College of Arts and Law currently gives the opportunity for postgraduate students to choose language credits as part of their Widening Horizons module at no extra fees.

Language courses run during term time with a variety of languages including Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Spanish.

Postgraduate students from other colleges are eligible to take additional credits outside of their main course in a foreign language. However, this will come at an extra fee to your Masters degree and will not count towards final grades.  

Spaces on language courses are limited; please see the Languages for All webpage for more details.

Dyslexia and other learning difficulties

We provide disability support through the Learning Support Team if you have a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia.

Support for our researchers

The University Graduate School (UGS) brings together all postgraduate researchers at Birmingham. It acts as your central resource point, giving you access to a wealth of services to support you in your research, develop your skills and prepare you for success in a competitive global market.

UGS runs a number of networking sessions and annual events, such as our Research Poster Conference and Community Day, which provide you with valuable opportunities to meet and learn from colleagues across the University research community. Our Induction Day will introduce you to the facilities available to postgraduate researchers and will outline how we can support you in your studies.

The training needs of our research students are met by the University Graduate School.